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What is the Right Way to Lose Weight?

In the last decade, the U.S. has become increasingly conscious of its own weight. From new diets to government policy to reality television shows, the stress has been on the importance of “losing weight.” But should losing weight be the only goal? It’s looking more and more likely that Americans might just be approaching the issue the wrong way.

A Food and Health survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation shows that about 77 percent of Americans want to and are trying to lose weight. The only problem is, about 70 percent of Americans are still overweight or obese.

So how can this be?

By focusing solely on losing weight, people forget that the real goal is living a healthier life.

This includes changing the way you eat, changing the way you move, and changing the way you look at life. A results-driven mentality of “I have to lose X amount of weight” fails to address the fundamental principles of healthy living. Diets often mean that you turn your eating habits and your life upside down for eight-16 weeks. The problem comes after the initial weight loss, since data shows us that most people gain back all of the weight they lost on their diet plan. Between one- and two-thirds of dieters actually gain back more than they originally had lost, according to one UCLA report.

If we adopt a more broad approach to losing weight — that we want to become healthier people and live happier lives, we allow ourselves more space and flexibility to change our habits over time. We can start by making incremental changes that will last a lifetime. This includes not only eating healthier, but learning to eat less and stay active on a regular basis. Weight loss shouldn’t be the goal, rather, it should be the byproduct of a healthy and active lifestyle. This includes moving naturally, eating wisely, and engaging with the right tribe, the fundamental principles of the blue zones way of life.

So what should you do? Try these simple tips below to help direct you to healthier lifestyle. You can also take the Blue Zones Life Challenge, a four-week journey to a healthier, happier, and more stress-free life.

1. Eat with family

Why do it? Adolescents who eat dinner with their family are 15 percent less likely to become obese (1). In addition, research shows that family meals positively influence family communication, development of healthy eating patterns in children, and school performance.

2. Eat a big breakfast

Why do it? Have you ever heard your mother tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Well, people who eat a bigger breakfast are more likely to be physically active throughout the day (2). Eating a big breakfast is a common characteristic in those who live healthy, active lifestyles.

3. Eat like the healthiest people in the world

We distilled more than 150 dietary surveys of the world’s longest-lived people to discover the secrets of a longevity diet. These 10 simple guidelines reflect how the world’s longest-lived people ate for most of their lives.  They include eating a cup of beans a day, avoiding processed foods, and getting 90-95 percent of your calories from fruits, vegetables, grains, greens and beans.

(1) Taveras et al. “Family Dinner and Adolescent Overweight.” Obesity Research. Vol. 13 No. 5 May 2005.
(2) Wyatt et al. “Long-Term Weight Loss and Breakfast in Subjects in the National Weight Control Registry.” Obesity Research. (2002) 10, 78–82; doi: 10.1038/oby.2002.13.

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